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Dry Land Fish

  • Serves 4
    SERVES

Ingredients

  • 20-30 morel mushrooms
  • Cornmeal
  • 2 eggs, beaten for wash
  • Oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Sometimes called “dry land fish,” they are actually a wild mushroom that can be found underneath hardwoods in March–May in Kentucky. Look in damp areas near creeks, gulleys, and on hillsides. They are tan in color and are uniquely cone-shaped, and are sometimes difficult to spot. Usually when you find one, you’ll see several more.

Hint: When looking for morels, carry an onion sack or other mesh-type bag; this way the mushrooms can spread spores as you are walking through the woods (so I hear). Look on the Web for “morels” and you can get photos and even order online if you wish.

Wash morels gently and lay on paper towels to absorb extra moisture. Cut off the bottom of the morel’s stem just above the picking level. Roll in egg wash and then in cornmeal and fry in hot oil until browned. Salt and pepper to taste. Unless they are very large or have a bug hole, I usually fry them whole. If they happen to be, just slice in half lengthways or cut away the bad spot (be sure to rinse away anything inside). Unfortunately, they are hard to locate and the wildlife like them too, so we usually only have one or two batches a year.

I can only eat 5 or 6; they are pretty rich-tasting so be sure not to overeat these at one sitting. P.S.: there are also what is called a “false morel,” which may/may not make you sick if you eat it. The true morel is solid shaped on the underneath (they don’t have regular gills); the false morels apparently aren’t jointed totally at the stem base. Again, refer to a morel Web site to see what the experts say.

RECIPE HISTORY: A friend saw these while he and my husband were turkey hunting on our property. We’d never heard of them before, but he told us how to cook them. Now we pack our mesh bags and look for morels when we scout for turkeys in the springtime.

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